Saturday, January 13, 2007

Eragon vs. Taran

I read Eragon this week, and couldn't help constantly comparing it, rather unfavorably, to Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, which I read about this time last year. They are both fantasies centered on the theme of a young man facing various trials and lessons which prepare him for leadership. (The Prydain Chronicles are aimed at a younger audience, though.)

Paolini is a young man, and his hero gets what young people think they need to face the world: skills, power, street smarts, and freedom.

Alexander, though, while he puts his hero and heroine through the obligatory battles and magical encounters of fantasy, focuses on some quite different lessons: humility, dependence on others, relinquishing of power, enough self-knowledge to cure one of self-focus, and a willingness to do the dull and unglamourous tasks simply because they need to be done. I'm not very old yet, myself (at least I don't FEEL very old yet), but my money's on Alexander's take on growing up.

Besides, he's a lot funnier.


Sherry said...

Definitely agree, aand I am OLD.

Carrie said...

I had a hard time not comparing Eragon to just about any fantasy series. Particularly Lord of the Rings.

We recently picked up the sequel, Eldest, which I haven't read yet. Jonthan read it and said it was worlds better than Eragon though so I'm curious to get into it.

blfox said...

Thanks for the thoughts. I've been debating about whether or not I want to spend the time reading Eragon. I've always had the impression that it's a modernised idea of fantasy, and that (as you pointed out so well) what the hero experiences is what a modern audience would be interested in, and not in what might truly be worthy qualities.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for addressing exactly the questions I had about these books!

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

I agree with your comparisons, too, and like Carrie said, I had a hard time not comparing Eragon to just about any fantasy series, since he'd obviously read most of them. Eragon was very derivative, which is expected for such a young writer.
I noticed a lot of parallels to Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsinger books (not necessarily recommended, and I'm sure I spelled something wrong).

Haven't read Eldest.

Zebra said...

Alexander is very good, that's true. I cannot compare the two authors but all I can say is that Alexander has done tremendous work.

Merry K said...

What an excellent commentary! Alexander shows that even today unwordly kids' books, if written well, will be beloved. Eragon, though interesting in places, felt uncomfortably like popular culture, for all its fantasy setting, while the Prydain Chronicles felt right.